Living in Belize - Costs, currency, handling finances
Many people choose Belize as their retirement paradise because of the beautiful sights and relaxed pace of life. Some entrepreneurs favour this country because of tons of great investment and real estate opportunities and attractive low taxes. If you are interested in moving there read this article to learn more about living in Belize, the average costs and how to open your foreign bank account and handle the basic finances in new country.
How to move to Belize?
There is no special visa required. Moreover, there are numerous attractive government incentive programs to help people move to Belize. However, most of them are focused on older citizens, who would like to choose this country as their retirement resort. If you are 45 years old or older and with a yearly income of at least $24,000, you may be eligible for a retirement program. That way you can import all of your items, goods and vehicles without any custom duties or taxes. Moreover, you will be required to spend only 30 days inside the country.
On average, the whole procedure for getting a permanent residency for an adult couple costs around $2,100.
5 reasons for moving to Belize
1. Costs of living
Compared to other holiday resorts and countries within the Carribeans it is significantly cheaper when it comes to everyday expenses. The Bahamas or Bermuda are almost twice more pricey.
One of the luring advantages is low cost real estate. Especially taking into consideration that you can buy a three-room house by the beach, with a beautiful ocean-view for less than $300,000. Similar places in other popular resort areas reach even a million of dollars.
3. The official language is English
English is widely spoken in Belize. Therefore, you don’t need to learn any exotic or new language to feel comfortable in your new country.
4. No personal tax
There are basically no significant personal taxes for you to pay: there’s no tax on foreign income nor capital gains or inheritance.
5. Beautiful sights
There are over 200 offshore cayes, the world's second largest barrier reef, rivers and exotic jungles to explore. One can also find Maya ruins or dive into the famous largests Blue Hole in the ocean.
Which district to choose?
Even though the total area of the country is 23 square kilometers, different regions have their own characteristics and features. The majority of tourists, as well as foreigners who move there focus on the northern part of the country. However, cheap accomodation and new developments in the southern regions lure expats there. San Pedro, Placencia, and San Ignacio have the largest foreign communities.
Below you can find brief summaries of the most popular districts. The country itself is small enough to see all of them in one day! Maybe it may be sensible to visit a few places and try living there for a few days, before deciding which one suits you the most. Find a cheap accomodation and talk to the locals as well as other expats, who can share their experience living in the region.
It is the most popular island. There aren’t many budget cottages there, as you will mostly find bigger houses and codes there. As it is a popular destination for both tourists and expats the rent gets expensive quite quickly. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and activities to attend. The community mostly volunteers in organising various activities, as you can find there fitness clubs, live music events or even bridge clubs! It’s worth noting that there is no easy access to hospital in case of emergencies, so it may not be a good area for people with health conditions requiring urgent medical attendance.
The place is divided by a channel, which is a great place to go swimming and enjoy deep turquoise waters. There are few bars with music, however compared to Ambergris Caye there are much less fun activities around. Great place for people who seek some peace and want to chill by the Caribbean Sea.
The costs of living here are low. Moreover, a popular Mexican city Chetumal is just right behind the border, where one can enjoy shopping malls, theatres, cinemas or get medical help at the Hospital if needed. When it comes to the downsides, there aren’t many beaches in Corozal.
It is one of the popular beach area in the country with miles of beautiful sandy beaches, which aren’t usually that crowded. On the south of the peninsula there is a lively town Placencia Village. There you can find numerous bars and small restaurants, as well as small local stores.
Now moving away from the coast, in Cayo you can explore more of the wilder side of the country. There is no ocean access, however one can find numerous rivers and waterfalls. It is a great place for cave explorers and mountain hikers. You can also visit ancient Maya ruins. There is a community of expats who settle in this region to live a self-sufficient lives with farming.
The Toledo District
The area is just getting more popular with foreigners. Therefore, it may be an opportunity to buy a house still cheaper there. However, it means that there aren’t many attractions or facilities there yet, as the region is still developing. Tourism hasn’t affected life there. It is a wild but beautiful region. You can even meet monkeys hanging on the trees in the towns.
Should I be afraid of hurricanes?
Belize seems to be in a rather lucky spot, as the country hasn't experienced significant problems with hurricanes in recent years compared to other countries in the region. However, as obviously the region itself is really prone to such events it’s essential to remember about potential danger when moving there. The most recent and devastating case of a hurricane was in 2010. With today’s technology and early-prevention systems people are usually notified early enough to evacuate.
In case of a nearby hurricane there aren’t any parts of the country which are considered much safer. Therefore, one shouldn’t worry too much about choosing between a house by the beach or more in land.
The official currency of Belize is Belize Dollar (BZD). Its value is directly pegged to USD, as it’s always 0.5 of the american dollar.
The banks operate on slightly different terms than people are usually used to. They close early in the day around 2-3pm.
Because of convenient tax regulations many people open offshore accounts in Belize. Therefore there are certain requirements for foreigners to do it. You may need to provide:
- A reference from your previous bank (preferably where you had an account for at least 2 years)
- A utility bill/government letter/rental documentation to prove address of residence
- Notarized copy of valid passport or ID with a signature, photo and personal details
Popular Banks for foreigners in Belize
- Belize Bank International Limited
- Caye International Bank Limited
- Choice Bank Limited
- Heritage International Bank & Trust Limited
- Market Street Bank Limited
Money transfers to Belize
Most of the banks handle the transfers via regular SWIFT network, therefore it shouldn’t be a problem to send and receive regular bank wires there.
This location is also supported by the majority of popular online remittance platforms. You should easily send a money transfer to Belize with Transferwise, TransferGo or WorldRemit to name a few popular ones. You can find a convenient compare tool on our platform, where all you need to do is fill in the information about your transfer and the algorithm will show you how much it will cost on all available transfer platforms, banks and financial companies.
Costs of living in Belize
The general costs
Compared to other touristic locations, but also regular towns in the US, the costs of living seem to be rather cheaper. You get access to cheap and fresh fruits and vegetables from the local natural plantations. There is also plenty of seafood. There are numerous lakes and rivers where people who like to live a self-sufficient lives simply fish for their dinner everyday. They produce beer or even rum locally. And you can always grab a cheap food at the local market for no more than $5.
If you feel like you can’t live without imported goods and products, there is a Mexican border nearby, so you can always visit a regular Walmart there.
It is estimated that a couple can live a rather decent living for only $1,200 a month.
Obviously if you want to stay at an apartment by the beach in the most attractive tourist region, the price can go as high as $1,000 for a single-room flat per month. However, cottages in other towns or smaller villages go as cheaply as $100-$200 per month for a convenient small house. Remember that the country’s area is rather small, so almost every other region is still within a few-hours drive range.
Utility bills for electricity, water and sewage should fit within $100 range.
The major expense is potentially the internet, as there aren’t many competitive providers, so it may cost you even up to $150 monthly.
Generally there are numerous pharmacies and clinics, however depending on the region you live in they may be more or less accessible. But the health care should be just enough for most people. If you have a more serious problem, it’s best to visit hospitals behind the border.